#WestCommutes Photo Competition

Swim, hike or kite surf to work? Do you avoid traffic jams and packed trains by commuting on horseback or climbing into a canoe? Regularly get stuck in livestock traffic jams?

If your commute is out of the ordinary, we’d like to see what it looks like and hear about your experiences. Show us with your pictures or videos why living and working in the West offers an incredible quality of life.

We have a brilliant prize to give away for the best entry.

How To Enter:

  1. Snap a photo or video of your West of Ireland journey
  2. Upload a photo (or video) to social media using the #WestCommutes + #County hashtags e.g. #WestCommutes #Galway
  3. Tag our @LookWestie accounts in your post. (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook)
  4. You can also enter your photo via the form at the end of this page.

Prize Details

We have the most awesome bag of goodies for the best entry as chosen by the LW team and a professional photographer. All of the prizes are by businesses in the West of Ireland and are perfect for the adventurous, outdoor-loving commuter.

The Winner Will Get:


  • A Seagreen Rolltop Backpack by the Atlantic Equipment Project. The Atlantic Equipment Project is a collection of backpacks, satchels and iPad cases, made in Sligo, designed with the active outdoor lifestyle in mind. Each bag is constructed using the highest quality materials, creating functional bags that will last a lifetime. atlanticequipmentproject.com
  • A Laptop Sleeve by Loved & Upcycled. This innovative West of Ireland company upcycles kites, sails, wetsuits, bike-tubes and other outdoor sports gear into bags & wallets. Their goal is to protect precious materials from entering landfill one product at a time. loved-upcycled.com
  • West-Strand 100% Wool Beanie: West-Strand 100% Wool Beanies are designed to keep warm and cozy on those cold days of the year. Maker Nina lives in the North-West and inspired by the cold, she creates a range of 100% Wool Products to keep warm all year around. weststrandbynina.com
  • A gift package by Carrow Coffee with three bags of coffee – a Rwandan, Colombian and Brazilian. Carrow is a specialty coffee roastery that was set up in Sligo by Paola and Andrew when they returned from Colombia last year. It favours light to medium roasts that allows the bean’s intrinsic flavour to shine through. carrow.ie
  • A luxury Seaweed Bath and Seaweed Shower from Sligo’s Seashore Veg. Seashoreveg is product hand picked seaweed from the Atlantic shores of The North West coast of Ireland. Seashore Veg on Facebook

We will also have some gift vouchers for lunch at the Strandhill People’s Market to give awayThis special Sunday market takes place in the unique venue of Hangar 1 at Sligo Airport in Strandhill, just a few short minutes stroll from the beachfront every Sunday from 11am to 4pm. strandhillpeoplesmarket.ie

We’ll be sharing some of our favourite entries on our social channels, so stay tuned to our feed.


The competition will be open for submissions from 27 Feb– 21 Mar 2018.

westcommutesTerms & Conditions:

  1. Entry is open to all recipients except employees of the WDC, prize promoters and their families.
  2. The Promoter is LookWest.ie and the Western Development Commission
  3. To enter the photo competition, participants must post a photo on social media using the #CommuteWest and #county hashtags (i.e. the county they’re in) and tag @lookwestie on Twitter / Instagram or post it on our Facebook page. Ideally, include a brief description of your photo. Entries must be posted or reposted from a public account during the entry period. You cannot simply “tag” an older photo/video. Those posted from private accounts and/or posted outside of the entry period will not be considered eligible.
  4. You may enter as many times as you wish, but each entry must be a unique photo
  5. All entries must be located in any of the seven counties in the Western Region; Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and Clare.
  6. The entry process is open from 28 Feb until 21 March.
  7. All prizes are non-transferable.
  8. Photos entered into the competition may be displayed on the website of LookWest.ie.
  9. Notification and Requirements of Potential Winner: We will reach out directly to the potential winner via direct message within one day of choosing a winning entrant. The WDC will then follow up with potential winner via email with instructions on how to claim the prize. Upon response from the winner, the WDC will announce the potential winner via posts on our social media accounts. If a potential winner does not respond and comply with the instructions in the initial direct message within three (3) days, he/she will forfeit the prize and the WDC may award the prize to an alternate entrant. Only three (3) alternate entrants will be contacted. Except where prohibited, a potential winner may be required to complete and return an affidavit of eligibility and liability/publicity release. 10. Entrants are deemed to accept these terms and conditions by entering this competition. Participants’ personal data will be used in accordance with the Promotor’s Privacy Policy.
  10. For further details on the LookWest.ie’s privacy policy here

One Region One Vision Conference Video Highlights

For 2018 the Western Region will be recognised as European Entrepreneurial Region.

Recognising the success of our indigenous and small enterprises. Our commitment to innovation will see us become one of the most resilient places in Europe.

The One Region One Vision Conference took place in Galway on November 28th.

The Western Development Commission was delighted to collaborate on this conference with the North Western Regional Assembly.

One Region One Vision celebrated achievement, whilst also promoting investment in our competitiveness through Structural Funds and launching our Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy.

So get your 2018 moving by watching the One Region One Vision inspirational speakers including Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Harry Hughes of PortWest, Mary Rodgers (Portershed), Adrian Weckler (INM) and many more.

wdc insights

Census 2016: The Western Region’s Labour Market – in pictures!

As the final Census 2016 Profile ‘Employment, Occupations and Industry’ was published by the CSO last week, we now have a pretty good picture of the Western Region’s labour market in 2016.  The Western Development Commission (WDC) has today published an infographic on some interesting facts about the Western Region’s labour market.

This is the second in a series of infographics to be published using data from the Census and focusing on the Western Region – the seven counties under the remit of the WDC.  The aim is to make key regional statistics available in an easily accessible manner.

In this infographic we show that:

  • The Western Region had 17.4% of the State population in 2016, 16.6% of all employment and 19.5% of all self-employment
  • There are over 100,000 retired people living in the Western Region
  • Industry is the biggest employment sector in the Western Region and also enjoyed the biggest gain in employment between 2011 and 2016

You can download ‘The Western Region’s Labour Market’ infographic here

west of ireland work force

See more from the WDC Insights Blog here.

WDC Analysis of Census data: Where people in the Western Region Live and Work

More people living in the Western Region now leave the Region for work – analysis of Census data by the WDC shows

  • 7 out of every 10 workers (71.5%) living in the Western Region, work within the Region a decline since 2011 when 73.2% of workers in the Western Region found work in the Region.
  • Over 4,200 Western Region residents travel to work in Dublin, up by 16.9% since 2011.
  • In 2016 there was a net loss of 17,565 workers who leave the Region to work elsewhere.
  • Compared to 2011, this is an increase in the number of workers leaving the Region to work, when there was a net loss of -14,939 residents working outside of the Region.

Of the workplace destinations outside the Western Region, the five counties of Limerick (7,948), Westmeath (4,500), Dublin (4,258), Derry (2,986) and Longford (1,730) are the most significant workplaces.

Over 4,500 workers living in the Western Region work abroad (4,661).

View some specific county findings: HERE



For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Deirdre Frost, Policy Analyst, 086 605 3317



A remarkable year for MyCreativeEdge.eu

2017 has been an important, and very busy, year for MyCreativeEdge.eu. Under a creative momentum project, the website was fully revamped and re-launched in March. MyCreaiveEdge.eu is a hub for anyone looking for inspiration and insights into the creativity of 5 different regions on Europe’s Northern Edge – in Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Sweden.

MyCreativeEdge.eu currently showcases the work of 232 creatives working in the fields of Arts, Crafts, Design and Media & Technology, around half are based in the West of Ireland.  We’re hoping to grow that number throughout 2018, so sign-up to our monthly newsletter to keep up to date!

my creative edgeDigital marketing campaign

A key objective of MyCreativeEdge.eu is to make creative entrepreneurs from Europe’s Northern Edge more visible to potential international clients and customers. To this end, the first phase of an international digital marketing campaign was launched at the end of June. The campaign mainly targeted consumers based in the MyCreativeEdge.eu regions and the cities of London, Dublin, Stockholm, Reykjavik, and Helsinki. Facebook ads were the main channel used.

During July-August, there were 8,445 unique sessions on the MyCreativeEdge.eu website from 6,770 unique users. This was a 69% increase in the number of sessions since the same period in 2016, and a 107% increase from the previous two month period.

A second phase was launched in September and targeted Dublin, Stockholm, Belfast, Reykjavik and Helsinki, as well as cities in the UK, US and Canada. In addition to Facebook ads, Google display ads were also used.  The site registered a 100% increase in the number of sessions since the same period a year previously.

And in the run up to Christmas, a creative momentum project has been promoting MyCreativeEdge.eu as a hub for unique, inspiring gift ideas. Four businesses from the West of Ireland were among those featured in the Christmas campaign: Celtic Fairy Doors, Lynsey De Burca, McKernan Woollen  Mills, and Hawthorn and Rose.

These businesses were among the 21 enterprises from the region who received support earlier in the year from a creative momentum project to collaborate with professional photographers from the West of Ireland. In just over a month, the Christmas campaign resulted in 4,168 sessions on the site mostly from the UK, Ireland, Finland, the US and Canada.

Register now

The digital marketing activities linked to MyCreativeEdge.eu will continue into 2018. By registering and publishing their profile, creative enterprises based in the West of Ireland can benefit from this advertising, as well as having the opportunity to connect with other creative businesses in the same, or different fields.

And remember, if you want to keep up to date with what’s new on MyCreativeEdg.eu sign-up for our newsletter.

Local Authorities meet to support regional film fund initiative at WDC Offices

Following the recent launch by Minister Sean Kyne of the WRAP fund, today in the WDC offices, Ballaghaderreen, representatives from Donegal, Roscommon, Clare, Galway county and the Galway Film Centre, met to discuss how best to collectively progress the implementation of the fund within the west of Ireland region.

The Western Regional Audio-visual Producer’s Fund (The WRAP Fund) is a financial mechanism to promote job creation in the region and to assist creative producers in the sector to overcome the challenges of operating in a highly competitive industry.

The WRAP Fund will support enterprise growth in the following four sub sectors in the creative industry:

  • Film Production
  • Television Content Production
  • Animation Production
  • Content Production for Gaming

The Chair of the Galway Film Centre (GFC), Celine Curtin stated that the WRAP fund was a “Unique fund “on the Island of Ireland that addresses not only the needs of the Film and TV sectors, but also those of “animation and the gaming sectors”. As such this may represent a competitive offering to support growth of existing and new entrants to these critical sectors.

Representing Donegal county council , Aideen Doherty, reiterated the need for the WRAP fund for the regional creatives, “absolutely we should do this “, stating also the need to use the opportunity afforded by the initiative to ensure a greater engagement of young people in the sector.

Whilst the WRAP fund is targeted primarily at supporting the sector in a financial manner, through the resources of the West’s very own Western Development Commission’s funds and those of the local authorities etc. it is hoped that the group will grow to also help grow the sector through indirect means.

The sector and local authorities have highlighted a number of issues that combine to also challenge the region’s growth in the film and related sectors“ stated Ian Brannigan, The acting CEO of the WDC, “However the great news is that solutions have also been identified, which the WDC is keen to assess further to see if significant growth can be unlocked”.

Applications for the prestigious position of Development Manager for the WRAP Fund are currently being accepted.

More details on the WRAP Fund Development Manager opportunity here

From adversity to advantage: why 2018 could be a turning point for the West of Ireland

The West of Ireland is offering more and more families an escape from the pressures of Dublin with a lifestyle and career to match, according to the organisers of a major conference showcasing entrepreneurialism in the region.

And with increased infrastructure such as new motorways and connectivity being put in place, the West will soon offer a viable counter-weight to the economic might of Ireland’s Dublin and Eastern region.

The One Region: One Vision conference to be held in Galway on November 28, will focus on a burgeoning movement in the West of Ireland – a growing band of entrepreneurs, business people and risk takers.

And with the region’s designation by the EU as European Entrepreneurial Region 2018, the qualities of ambition and resilience will be discussed and debated by speakers and delegates. Read more

labour market

WDC Insights: County Labour Market – Census 2016

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has just published eight new WDC Insights publications.  Each examines the labour market of a Western Region county, with Galway City and County examined separately, based on data from Census 2016.

Each of the WDC Insights outlines the Principal Economic Status of the county’s adult population, compared with the State average, as well as the sectors where the county’s residents work and how this has changed since 2011.

Selected findings include:

  • Clare: Industry accounts for 15.5% of total employment among Clare’s residents compared with the state average of 11.4%.
  • Donegal: Employment in Accommodation & Food Service grew by almost 20% since 2011, compared with 13% growth nationally. The county has the third highest share working in the sector nationally.
  • Galway City: Information & Communications employs 6.1% of the city’s residents compared with a 4.5% national average. The sector grew 36% in the city between 2011 and 2016.
  • Galway County: 16.3% of Galway County’s residents work in Industry, the fourth highest share in the State. Employment growth in the sector since 2011 in Galway County (21%) was double the national average.
  • Leitrim: Health & Social Work is the largest employment sector in county Leitrim with 13.5% working in the sector, greater than the 11.1% national average.
  • Mayo: Industry and Health & Social Work are both significantly more important employers in county Mayo than nationally and were the county’s two strongest growth sectors since 2011, up 14% and 16% respectively.
  • Roscommon: Health & Social Work experienced the strongest employment growth in Roscommon between 2011 and 2016 increasing by almost a quarter (24.4%).
  • Sligo: Sligo has the highest share of employment in the Health & Social Work sector in Ireland with 15.5% of Sligo residents working in the sector.

Examining the needs and issues of the Western Region through in-depth analysis is a key part of the work of the WDC.  This analysis of the labour market of each individual county should be useful for local authorities, community groups and businesses in each county in planning for the future.

It is important that we more fully understand why some of the sectoral changes in employment are taking place in the western counties, and the impact that these are having.

All eight WDC Insights can be downloaded here

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

big red barn

How the Xchange made a difference to Big Red Barn founder

You get the sense when speaking with Donal Byrne that if he could split himself in two he would enthusiastically attend The Xchange mentoring and networking event at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Rosses Point, Sligo, on October 5th and 6tfor a third year in a row.

The founder and CEO of Big Red Barn, the Mayo-based company which designs and manufactures modular structures, is a keen advocate of networking in general and the Xchange in particular.

“If I wasn’t as busy as I am I’d definitely go for the third year because you can never learn enough. It’s a different story every year and there’s different entrepreneurs there but you would never get access to a room filled with millionaires anywhere else,” he says.

Donal built his business after the experience of being in charge of all the temporary structures used at the Olympic Park before and during the London 2012 games.

big red barn

Right of Picture Donal Byrne founder of Big Red Barn

“We had a lot of issues with the structures, weather especially, moving, ripping, tearing. So, my plan when I came back to Ireland was  to design a bigger, stronger structure that could withstand the Irish and English climate and that was basically bombproof,” he explains.

And so the Big Red Barn was born. Donal’s alternative to the usual canvas structure of marquees has proved a success in Ireland, the UK and beyond and the barn has been followed by a range of other structures, including modular homes which were recently launched at the Ploughing Championships.

“We’ve grown on average between 300 and 500 percent every year for the last four years and it’s been a great success story but we’re working very hard at it.”

Despite the success, Donal has found that being an entrepreneur has serious challenges. “Sometimes it’s a very lonely place, being an entrepreneur, and you think I’m the only one that has these problems – cash flow problems or staffing problems, trying to grow a company, get money from the bank. I sat with several entrepreneurs at The Xchange and they made you feel at ease and told you how they dealt with similar issues,” he says.

So, apart from networking and hard work, are there other secrets to his success? “There are key learnings,” he says. “The first key learning is surround yourself with positive people. You cut out all the negativity. Anybody who is telling you ‘you cannot do’ it shouldn’t be in your group.”

Full details on the XChange and how to apply at thexchange.ie


Regional Heat & Biomass Study: We Need Your Input

The WDC along with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, were tasked to ‘complete a regional renewable energy analysis on the use of biomass as a local contribution to the national renewable heat target and develop a range of actions to support the development of renewable energy in the region’.

This covers:

• Mapping biomass installations already in usage

• Assessing the biomass feedstock supply available to the region

• Identifying potential future biomass heat demand and use

• Recommending the next steps in the development of biomass heat in the region

Please participate in the survey here

In line with this research the Western Development Commission is now undertaking a survey of current and potential biomass use in the Western Region. This will inform how we support and develop biomass use in this region.  We are keen to understand more about how you operate your heating systems, any plans you have for further biomass investment or use and your general views on biomass. 

All information provided will be treated in strict confidence.

This is timely in the light of the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), that the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) propose to introduce. The Incentive will:

• Offer payments based on metered renewable heat output (€/MWh).

• Be paid for a 15 year period

• Eligible only to newly installed biomass systems (and other renewable heat technologies)

• Make biomass heat an attractive proposition compared to fossil fuel heating

Your support in this survey will be greatly appreciated and will help us develop the biomass sector in the Western Region, supporting jobs and growing our low carbon economy.

WDC and biomass specialists Reheat are managing this survey.


and or contact either Clodagh or Steve

with any questions directly:

clodaghbarry@wdc.ie or steve@reheat.uk.com

More details can be found by clicking here.

Photo by Pär Pärsson on Unsplash